To infinity and beyond

I don’t often read sci-fi (except for Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which is one of my favourite re-reads when I need a laugh), but I do love school based stories, so Space Academy by Hannah Hopkins caught my attention. And I’m very glad it did as I think this is the best MG sci-fi I’ve read. I’m always nervous about saying that as someone always points out “but what about …” so maybe I should add “in years” to cover myself!

I feel the author his nicely bridged the gap between the “Planet Stan” chapter books to a full length sci-fi. BUT I’m surprised this is pitched as YA (the Amazon categories are all for adults), as I feel it sits very comfortably in upper middle grade i.e. for 9-12 year olds.

In fact, my only niggle is the cover. It’s a nice enough design, but it screams YA to me and as I said, I reckon this book is MG not YA. The protagonists are thirteen, so why do they look about eighteen on the cover?

This is a shame, as it’s actually a new cover following re-release (sorry!). If you’re curious here is the original cover. Now, the new cover is waaaaay better, but I think it’s still aiming too much at the YA category.

There are strong Hogwarts parallels, not just in the boarding school setting. For example, it has the classic Harry/ Ron/ Hermione triangle, with each character bringing a different background and their own (mis)beliefs as they team up.

The blurb

It’s the year 2100. Earth is dying. A young woman, Elsie, has risked everything to get her newborn son, Will, aboard ‘The Mayflower’ – a spaceship that will transport a select number of people to a new planet they can call home. Elsie’s luck takes a turn when she discovers the captain of ‘The Mayflower’ is an old friend. He allows her to board with her son, giving them a place on the luxurious Floor One, where they live amongst the most honoured of ‘The Mayflower’s’ passengers. 

Thirteen years later, and Will is ready to start school at Space Academy, an institute specialising in subjects such as Alien Studies, Technology, and Rocket Control. While a pupil there, Will starts to uncover secrets about his father’s death, becoming wrapped in a mystery that he and his friends must solve if they are to have any hope of saving humanity from the threat that lies in wait. 

Lose yourself in this brilliantly addictive novel as it takes you on a journey through the stars. But be warned – you might be surprised by what you find.

Author Bio

In 2017, Hannah Hopkins released a self-published novel entitled ‘The Split’; the story of four teenagers navigating life after Earth as they journey through space to a new planet. Two years later, the book was picked up by ‘The Conrad Press’ and re-vamped as ‘Space Academy,’ with a new cover, new title and new additions to the story. ‘Space Academy’ was released in 2020, kickstarting Hannah’s career as a writer.  Hannah is currently busy writing a historical fiction novel with a feminist twist. She spends the rest of her time working at a University and caring for her two young children in the UK.

Book links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Academy-Hannah-Hopkins-ebook/dp/B0883G654X

US – https://www.amazon.com/Space-Academy-Hannah-Hopkins-ebook/dp/B0883G654X

More Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

I listen to audiobooks every day while walking the dog, so what could be more appropriate than a book about dogs! I reviewed the first book recently, and enjoyed it although I was a little surprised to find out it was actually about the house hunt process (like an episode of one of those TV series) rather than life in rural Ireland. Book 2 is about settling in and I absolutely LOVED it!

★ same narrator

★ same dry humour

★ more (and more) dogs

I laughed, I worried, and I want more.

Book cover

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 – Still living the dream in rural Ireland

Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?
Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?

Purchase Links 

Here is the audio link. It is available in ebook and paperback, but I haven’t read it in print format. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0844YCGSS/

Author Bio

Author Nick Albert

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Sequel alert: Esme’s Gift

Esme's Gift book cover

Last year, I featured Esme’s Wish so for those of you who enjoyed it, the sequel has just been released. There’s a giveaway if you’re feeling lucky …

Giveaway to Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494373/?

Blurb

Terror was within. Terror was without.
Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift—the power to observe the past—and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends—old and new—travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is a gripping fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

Fans of Harry Potter will love this book for its similar themes. The genuine friendship of the characters make this book a satisfying read, and hints at a healthy romance in the next book. The conclusion of the trilogy will be greatly anticipated! Sorcha, Goodreads

From dragons diving into volcanoes, Esme and her friends portalling out of art class and deep underwater adventures, Esme’s Gift is quite simply a thrilling and exciting read. Jean, Goodreads

Purchase Links

Amazon U.K. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Esmes-Gift-Esme-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B0826JWZP4

Author bio

Elizabeth Foster author

I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

Social media links

Website:  http://www.elizabethfoster.com.au/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethFosterAuthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/e_foster3

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elizabethfoster_/

Blazing a path in women’s football

Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while will know that as a former rugby player myself, I’m passionate about encouraging girls into sports. Last year, I featured a book about Gaelic football (“Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”) and that author is working on one about Camogie which I’m really looking forward to, so when I heard of a new picture book about Lily Parr, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Lily Parr made women’s football possible. I still struggle to believe that women’s football was banned when I was born (Ok that rather gives away my age)!

I do want to add that although the book is about women’s football, this should be read by all young football fans, regardless of gender. There is nothing pink or fluffy about it. Pure grit and determination.

Trailblazer is written by Elizabeth Dale and illustrated by Caroline Coroa, and as part of the publication book tour, I’m delighted that Carolina has agreed to chat to us.

1.Trailblazer is about real events and real people. What research did you do to ensure that you illustrated them correctly?

I didn’t start from zero. Elizabeth Dale, the author, and Kim from Maverick Books sent me an amazing compilation of info: websites with history, photos, names, events, etc. They were very careful with who was who, especially the Dick Kerr Ladies team and Alfred. There are plenty of websites that tell us events and stories of women in football since the beginning of 1900s in Europe, Americas, Africa, etc, so I started my research to find out more about women’s football worldwide and why UK and French female teams were so famous at the time. Then I focused on the girls of Dick Kerr Ladies. As they use uniforms most of the time, I needed to find physical and personal characteristics to distinguish them from each other. When you “know” someone it gets easier to draw, so the more I learned from them, the more their personalities would appear in the pages. As they didn’t have many pictures in 1900s, it’s even more impossible to find about a specific person, so I tried to find as many as I could to refine expressions. I was always thinking if they could ever imagine one day someone was going to research their lives and draw about it. I feel very honoured to do so.

 
2.You include a wide variety of clothes worn at that time. Were there any problems depicting them? 

I have a degree in fashion, and I was always very curious about fashion history in Europe. I already knew the consequences of World War I in the wardrobe of people. It was nice to revisit some books and see those nice hats, silk dresses, pearls, and tuxedos. I also use Pinterest for research faster. The challenge was the colors. As the photos from those decades are all black and white, I had to keep an eye on the croquis and old fashion magazines to draw. 

 3. Were the headlines you include in the illustration of the US newspapers, real headlines from the time?

 They’re part of Elizabeth and Kim’s research. Lily was a star; my impression is that every newspaper wanted to highlight her at some point. I received the headlines with the briefing, and I had to research images so both could work together. 

 4.The final double page spread – showing that female footballers today are playing due to the struggle of the ones who went before – is very moving. Was that scene your idea and was it difficult to get just right?

The scene was part of the briefing too, I also found it very moving to imagine that girls who play now have the support from those ladies. 

 5.You portray the football action scenes very well. Are you a football fan? Were you aware of the fascinating story of Lily and her team-mates struggle before you read this book?

Thank you! I played football after school for some months when I was 15, as left-wing, though I was a terrible player. In Brazil, we have a very strong soccer/football culture, especially at school. Even if you don’t like it you always end up learning something or you have a friend that is “sick” about it, as we say there. My husband and my brother-in-law helped me with some scenes by playing FIFA. We paused some moves so I could sketch. Marta, for example, is a very famous player worldwide today and she’s left-footed as Lily was, I studied her playing a little bit to improve the sketches. I also took care of the book “flow” to make sure Lily was well placed as left-footed. I remember seeing something about Lily’s statue being revealed last year during the Women’s World Cup in France, but I didn’t know much before the book.

6. Do you and the author have plans for more books e.g. to make this into a series?

 That would be great to have more of Lily and her team-mates! Florrie Redford, Alice Kell, and Alice Woods, for example, have nice stories to tell too. If Elizabeth and Maverick decide to make this into a series, I’m super available to work on it and, of course, learn more and improve scenes and characters.

Beyond origami Yoda

You’ll know I love a bit of crafting, but other than Christmas cards, I’ve never got into paper crafts. Lockdown has, however, started one of my friends into ridiculously intricate paper cutting, and we have a tin stuffed with about ten thousand origami Yoda’s (if you haven’t seen the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger, the instructions are at the end of each book in the series – highly recommended). Anyway, I spotted the cutest sloth paper animal kit on social media so I invited Sam White to talk to us about her kits. Over to her …

There are many reasons why so many people are turning to crafting these days. Above the usual stresses of modern life, now being stuck indoors has certainly added a different kind of pressure and overwhelm for parents. I do feel your pain … At the end of the day, just being mum, it really can be exhausting, and just leave us feeling stir crazy. The modern mum is a busy one, however you can’t continue to be everything to everyone, eventually it will catch up with you! What I’ve learned recently, is that I need to take time for myself, to rejuvenate, to make sure I am not lost while trying to hold everything together. 

How to achieve this eluded me for a while, and then, at the end of last year, I decided to try something completely new, that was just for me, and I tried my hand at crafting. I bought an animal crafting kit from Flamingo Paperie and very soon, I literally had this eureka moment, when I realised, I absolutely love this!!! Not only was I learning a new skill, but I realised I was able, even as a beginner, to create something that not only looked good, but made me feel good! The whole process was so relaxing. I’d achieved something I didn’t know I could … crafting with Flamingo Paperie really has brought something fantastic into my life.

If you’re looking for different things to do, to keep everyone entertained, why not while away a few hours with some paper crafting? I mean who doesn’t love sloths and unicorns…  right!? Everything you need to create your own three-D animal model is included in the kit – all the templates, high adhesion craft glue, sticks for craft glue application, scissors and a scoring tool to create those crisp folds too. Just look at the proud “parents” of these completed craft animals…

Here is a short, speeded up, video of Emily and Joe creating one of the latest craft models, the Koala… they make it look so easy!

You can see product information for the full range, and buy online, at http://www.flamingopaperie.co.uk/web/samwhite/area/craft-kits/

Can children create with Flamingo Paperie’s Animal Crafting Kits?

 Absolutely yes! The kits are aimed at children aged 12+ and adults, however with help from parents a younger child can get involved too.

How long does a kit take to complete?

Kits have varying timescales for completion, but you can expect crafting fun to last 3-18 hours depending on the kit purchased.

How much are the 3D craft Kits from Flamingo Paperie?

They start from £15, including everything you’ll need, even a pair of scissors! You won’t need to find any fancy or expensive tools to help you complete a kit – everything’s in the box.

SPECIAL OFFER

Free postage over £30, and, even better, when you join the Customer Club, you receive a freebie with your first online order. Www.flamingopaperie.co.uk/web/samwhite/area/customer_club/

Have fun,

Sam x

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